5 ways to keep new golfers coming back

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Jack Dillon shares his advice on how to turn newbies into customers

Over the past several weeks, I have been reaching out to golf people at courses throughout the country. I have been asking some basic questions about business, rounds, the golf course, and are they as yet selling merchandise? The story that comes back in every inquiry is that people are playing, lots of people, and many of these people are brand new to the golf course. This was an unexpected detail. I have been hearing that rounds are strong, and getting stronger, but this additional little nugget is news, really good news.

The people who manage golf courses, as well as the games’ leadership, have been working hard for years to move the needle, to grow the game, especially amongst young people. Although we do not yet know the demographics of these new golfers, we are just excited they have arrived. Is this a blip in the road? Will they stay and become regular or semi-regular golfers, or will they be gone the moment the country is 100% open, a fast dollar, with nothing for the long term? I belief some will stay to play with friends and family members. At the same time, this moment is an opportunity, one the industry has been asking for, for decades. What things can the property leaders do to nurture these new guests, get them to understand the game beyond the frustrations, and stay beyond the quarantine window? This highfives post will provide 5 thoughts on turning these golfing newbies into your customers:

  1. In staff meetings, talk about this new opportunity, ask your staff to be mindful of new golfers, and work to capture their contact information: then go above & beyond
  2. Start a group lesson program for all of your new golfers. Set this up as a no-charge program, or with a small fee per person. Even better, build a 6-round value card with instruction combined
  3. In addition to instructions on the swing, provide digital information about the game, your facility, rules, etiquette, as well as the every day things we take for granted about the game. Communicating often, adding valuable content each time, will build loyalty
  4. Be sure you and your managers spend time with all of these new players, helping them feel at ease around the property
  5. When the property is in full operating mode, offer food and drink coupons. Once a month, have a special welcome to the game open house, inviting all new golfers, along with your key staff, and a few regulars to attend. The more comfortable inside the entire property they are, the more you will see them

As you and I know, there are many, many reasons to quit this game. When you provide a level of comfort along with real care and attention, you give your property an opportunity to create a long-term golfer, and a long-term customer. We know the game is complex, frustrating, and in the eyes of many: expensive. If you create a purposeful program with your team, and put it into daily action, you have the chance to continue building rounds and dollars all year long.

If your club can add 24-36 new golfers, who play up to 12-18 rounds plus grab food & drinks, you will create a new, strong revenue stream. At the same time, why not talk to your regulars, asking them to help you recruit even more new golfers. Now that you have the program, you have the tools in place to grow for years. Today, with so much of entertainment left at home, golf is in the sweet spot for many people. It feels like the place to be. If you and your staff can build a welcoming feel and attitude that new golfers are at home, you just might be that place where these golfers play long after they begin to find the sweet spot for real. Thank you.

 Jack Dillon writes the highfives blog. Jack has been in golf for 47 years. He is a speaker and expert in service, operations, and merchandise, buying/selling. Contact Jack to help support your team. Reach Jack at 407-973-6136, or Dillonjack53@gmail.com. Jack lives in Orlando.

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